updated 01:24 am EST, Fri November 15, 2013
Makeover includes 'Quiet Time' setting, room naming, Protect compatibility
Nest, a company that makes smart home management electronics and is run by former iPod project manager Tony Fadell, has updated the Nest Learning Thermostat and the iPhone app that can be used to manage it, giving the program a makeover that will match a firmware update rolling out over the next few days. The update revamps many aspects of the current program, adds new features and brings in support for the company's other product, the Nest Protect smoke detector.
An improved home screen offers more up-front information, including current outdoor temperature and weather, the current set temperature for the Nest, the ability to switch between Home and Away settings from any app orientation, and color-coding to indicate the activity or alert level of the Nest or Nest Protect units (respectively). The company says it also introduces new features for both the Nest Thermostat and the Nest Protect.
For the Nest Protect -- which acts as both a smoke and fire alarm as well as a carbon monoxide detector and which works as a coordinated system with one or multiple units -- a number of new features will be implemented. "Every alarm in your home will be listed by room name, and you'll be able to quickly scan to see if everything's okay," Nest writes on its blog. "You'll see basic status - green, yellow or red - for both smoke and carbon monoxide."
In addition, the app now shows a "last update," indicating when the detectors were connected to Wi-Fi last, updating the status of its batteries and sensors. Using a home's Wi-Fi network, the detectors can send a "Heads Up" cautionary message or emergency status to the iPhone. The app can also show when the last "manual test" was done on the equipment (recommended to be done monthly), and show battery life.
For the Nest Thermostat, a whole new feature, called "Quiet Time" has debuted in the updated iPhone app and the Nest hardware. It allows users to override pre-set controls on humidifiers and dehumidifiers, ensuring the somewhat noisy equipment won't turn on regardless of humidity in case some "quiet time" is needed, like a baby's nap. The thermostat will now react better to dual-fuel systems when switching between fuel types, optimizing efficiency and protection of the equipment.
Finally, both the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect can coordinate to shut down the heating system if there is a carbon monoxide buildup, and to improve the Auto-Away algorithm. The app is now available through Software Update and on the iTunes Store (free), while the thermostat will automatically be updated in a rolling update.